We all know and love our Connecticut Shade cigars. They are mellow and easy, and more importantly, they don’t push back with too much force. The Connecticut Shade leaf is beloved by dozens of cigar blenders due to its impeccable smoothness and shy disposition. They say it is perfect for encasing mild, ultra-flavourful, and complex cigars. We do not disagree.
In fact, we believe that a new trend is emerging in the Connecticut Shade world. You see, Connecticut Shade cigars have, for years, been dismissed as beginner stogies that can’t stand up to a connoisseur. Not anymore.
The new Connecticut Shade smokes are stronger, bolder, and bona fide flavor bombs. Even better, they are enjoyable both to novices and veterans alike. One such stogie is the H. Upmann Connecticut.
A Little History
The H. Upmann Connecticut is a product of Imperial Brands formerly Altadis USA. It was released at the 2018 IPCPR Convention as a befitting head start to H. Upmann’s 175th-anniversary celebrations. The H. Upmann brand 175th-anniversary celebrations went down this year.
H. Upmann is one of the oldest brands of cigars in the biz. With roots dating back to the 1800s, H. Upmann sure survived the test of time and other challenges, including a war, revolution, and espionage. Despite all that, H. Upmann has grown to produce award raking internationally acclaimed stogies. They include Romeo y Julieta, Vega Fina, La Boheme, Montecristo, and Aging Room, among others. I could drone endlessly about H. Upmann. It really is an outstanding brand with a pretty interesting history. But we are here to discuss the delectable H. Upmann Connecticut cigar.
About H. Upmann Connecticut
H. Upmann Connecticut is the perfect addition to the existing H. Upmann line. In a word, this bad boy is a vamped-up version of the standard Connecticut Shade stogie. H. Upmann Connecticut is blended and handcrafted by Rafael Nodal and Grupo de Maestros at the Tabacalera de Garcia factory in La Romana, Dominican Republic.
Rafael Nodal is the head honcho at Tabacalera USA, Altadis. Further, he is the master blender behind fan favorites like Aging Room, Swag, and La Boheme cigars.
Chances are that you have had a cigar by Grupo de Maestros, even if you have never heard of them. These are the crème de la crème of cigar artisans. Grupo de Maestros is a group of eight expert blenders who create new and revolutionary tastes at Altadis USA. Essentially, they have 300 years of experience between them. So, when you hear or see the words Grupo de Maestros anywhere on your cigar, know that you are in the presence of a top-notch stogie.
The H. Upmann Connecticut blend fuses Nicaraguan and Dominican filler tobacco. These are swaddled in a Nicaraguan binder and cloaked in an Ecuadorian Connecticut leaf.
Now, here is where it gets juicy. There is an exceptional, proprietary Pilotico varietal in the filler. This tobacco is rare and seldom used Cuban-seed strain. Apparently, it went out of “fashion” because of disease issues. Then Altadis re-introduced it in the Montecristo Pilotico Pepe Mendez. Now, Pilotico tobacco is grown at the Navarrete Region in the Dominican Republic by the Mendez Family.
Pilotico adds a tinge of incomparably rich complexity and a sneaky nicotine kick to the H. Upmann Connecticut.
That’s not all. In the Upmann series, H. Upmann Connecticut is the first cigar in at least a decade to adorn an Ecuadorian Connecticut shade wrapper. Also, it is the first cigar to feature two types of wrappers; a Connecticut Shade and a Connecticut Maduro. The Maduro is simply a cap on the head. This tiny Maduro cap makes a world of difference to the H. Upmann Connecticut flavor profile. There is a deeper, bolder profile backed by a somewhat surprising sweetness on the finish.
The typical Connecticut Shade stogie is pretty predictable. By this, I mean the strength usually caps at the medium point. This is why Connecticut Shade cigars rarely appeal to aficionados. Well, Upmann Connecticut is everything but typical.
Right from the first draw, this stogie displays distinct traits of contemporary complexity. It opens with notes of roasted cereal, black tea, musty wood, and cinnamon taking their respective turns on the tip of the tongue. Leather notes, nuts, and a sweet woody disposition pitch camp at the back. Retrohale is all white pepper with a fresh citrusy tang.
The sweet citrus notes will increase as you draw closer to the mid-point. Dry wood, earth, dark chocolate, and subtle mocha notes dash in and out. There is a buttery, creamy, peppery, medium finish with some of the heat camping on the lips.
Salted pretzels. You may or may not experience this flavor, but it is absolutely divine and equally surprising. It zooms in and out, and I was obsessed with chasing it. Later, the salted pretzel flavor dissipates, giving way to slightly charred wood, sweet notes of caramel, and a nutmeg-like spice. As the H. Upmann Connecticut draws to a close, it’s a melding of flavors including earth, cedar, barnyard, cocoa, coffee, cinnamon, cream, citrus, and red pepper.
The cedar nuances fuse with hay, grass, and mild oak notes. This fusion gains a bit of char to complete the picture. It isn’t the bitter kind of char either; just a pleasant smoky savor that can’t really be explained. Retrohale is all musky, woody notes with a bit of cream and pepper. With my last draw, the nub reclaims creamy coffee with a spicy black pepper undertone.
H. Upmann Connecticut smokes like a champ. There were no burn issues to speak of, and the smoke output was phenomenal. Strength came up to a strong medium. The last third delivered a sneaky nicotine kick that is entirely unlike Connecticut Shade cigars. And even though there were no stark flavor transitions, it was a pleasant smoking experience with enough bang to keep me interested.
Grupo de Maestros have never steered us wrong. And they are right on the nose with this blend. If you have not tried it yet, you will be pleasantly surprised.
Please share your experience and thoughts. We love to hear from you.